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      04-04-2014, 02:26 AM   #1
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520D with a manual gearbox

Hello

I am being forced down the company car route and one of my options is a 520D SE with a manual gearbox (to be fair one of my other options is a Prius but as the ads say, I just said no)

So coming from an automatic Audi A7 and an automatic C350 before that and an automatic 335D Touring before that, I am not overly impressed but as I am not paying for it I'm trying to make a positive out of a negative.

So what are the manual 5s' like? Are the pedals offset like in the Audis.

I appreciate that there is a performance and economy hit compared to the auto (how things have changed in recent years) but as it's only a 520D it was never going to be "fast"

The car will be ordered with no options however it does appear that the base spec is actually pretty good

Any other comments welcome

Thanks
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      04-04-2014, 09:38 AM   #2
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Hello Mark

If it's leased then the incremental each month for having an auto box should be very small as the residual will be strong, I would think that the majority of 520ds would be auto.

If it was me I would ask for a quote with the auto box, it may even be cheaper than a manual.

Either way I would 100% pay the difference as to drive a manual after years of autos will be awful! you may well end up resenting the car. Let's face it the traffic is only getting worse.
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      04-04-2014, 09:58 AM   #3
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But you can't get the sports auto on the 520d any more so I'd have the manual. The standard auto is a bit meh.
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      04-04-2014, 10:58 AM   #4
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Hello Mark

If it's leased then the incremental each month for having an auto box should be very small as the residual will be strong, I would think that the majority of 520ds would be auto.

If it was me I would ask for a quote with the auto box, it may even be cheaper than a manual.

Either way I would 100% pay the difference as to drive a manual after years of autos will be awful! you may well end up resenting the car. Let's face it the traffic is only getting worse.
Thanks but it's not an option

The list of cars is fixed. There are 12 to choose from and all manuals except for a Prius or Lexus CT200h. The official response is that if I must have an auto, there are 2 on the list so pick on of them or get over it!!! We employ over 100,000 people and the company policy is not going to be bent or changed just for you!

I don't get a cash alternative, the option to upgrade or the option to add options to the car so asking for the auto version etc isn't going to happen.

The only options I have are which car from the list and which colour

To be honest I am really pi$$ed off with the whole thing but on the plus side, if I did take the 520D and put up with the manual then by taking away all the costs of buying, insuring and running the A7 would see me some 400 per month better off which I could put towards something rather special when we come to next change the wifes car.
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      04-04-2014, 11:10 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by m@rk View Post
Thanks but it's not an option

The list of cars is fixed. ....
That is a shame. I read your first post and was going to suggest you try the auto, as they are so different.

It will still be a good car with the manual, but may take a bit of getting used to. But if you haven't tried the 520d auto, you won't be comparing.

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      04-04-2014, 11:46 AM   #6
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That is a shame. I read your first post and was going to suggest you try the auto, as they are so different.

It will still be a good car with the manual, but may take a bit of getting used to. But if you haven't tried the 520d auto, you won't be comparing.

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Thanks

There are 2 BMWs on the list. A 520D SE or a 318D SE Touring (both manuals). If they had offered either with an auto box I would really not have a problem. Sure it's no A7 but not much is. Lets be honest though, this really is a 1st world problem. How many people would even think twice if their employer offered them a 520D with fuel card out of the blue.

My only concern is that I will be doing serious miles in this thing so just want to be sure the manual isn't a total pig of a car with wonky pedals and a bad back waiting to happen

BTW

Long time no speak
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      04-04-2014, 12:22 PM   #7
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But you can't get the sports auto on the 520d any more so I'd have the manual. The standard auto is a bit meh.
Not sure whats the exact difference between auto and sports auto but the 8 speed auto with paddles on the 520d is always a better option than a manual both in MPG and performance. IMO
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      04-04-2014, 01:24 PM   #8
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are you able to decline the car and go your own route and lease your own car? is the car for business or is it effectively a perk /forms part of your salary?
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      04-04-2014, 02:02 PM   #9
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My 520d is a manual its effortless to drive, I like you had autos in my last three vehicles. In fact since ive had the car Id forgottenohow good a manual was especially this one!
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      04-04-2014, 02:30 PM   #10
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are you able to decline the car and go your own route and lease your own car? is the car for business or is it effectively a perk /forms part of your salary?
No. This is what I have been doing for the last 10 years.

It's classed as a tool not a perk thus my salary remains untouched but because I am allowed to use it for personal use (regardless of if actually do or not), I still get hit with company car tax so technically I am paying for it hence the option of keeping my A7 and having a company car as well would leave me out of pocket.

If it wasn't going to hit my wallet then I wouldn't care. Indeed if it wasn't going to cost me anything they could paint the company logo all over it if they wanted.

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Originally Posted by poolie View Post
My 520d is a manual its effortless to drive, I like you had autos in my last three vehicles. In fact since ive had the car Id forgotten how good a manual was especially this one!
That's the sort of thing I was looking for. Thanks


We can sit here all day and debate is an auto is better than a manual and why the company is being an a$$ for having such hard and fast rules but my options are take a car off the list or don't get reimbursed for the 15,000 miles a year I currently drive on business

I have been offered an auto (CT200 or Prius) so the choice is mine.

Trust me I have put a lot of though into this including leaving the company but with 14 years service in and a bright future I would be mad to do that even if I did end up in a car only a tree hugger could love

I have also sat down with the head of fleet to go through all the options including looking through the reallocation pool in case there was an auto in there coming back onto fleet.

The 520D ticks all the boxes from a spec perspective (Xenons, Cruise etc all as standard). All our fleet vehicles will be ordered with Nav, Bluetooth and metallic paint (although the 5 has them as standard) and there is no limit on personal use. I also have to keep in mind that I will be stuck in this car for 4 years and by then my son will be a 6 foot 15 year old so going for something cheaper on tax like the A3 is probably not a great idea.
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      04-04-2014, 03:55 PM   #11
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So the bottom line is, you have to take a car, and the only real choice appears to be between a CT200 Auto and a 520D manual. Obviously you should drive both, as you're going to be living with it for four years and many miles.

The CT200 doesn't seem to get very good reviews, whereas the only criticism of the 520D from most road testers is the pedal offset. I do wonder if they are looking to find faults in what is generally agreed to be one of the best cars on the market.

The offset is probably a lot more noticeable to people who are in different cars every week; from my experience, it always takes time to adapt to a new seating position in a different car, but it quickly becomes second nature.

Try to get an extended test drive in a 520 manual from your dealer, or, as yours is apparently a large company with a large fleet, ask your fleet manager to get you a demonstrator direct from BMW. You're the only one who will know if the driving position is going to cause you problems.
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      04-05-2014, 04:51 AM   #12
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Lots of glass half empty comments here. Here's a glass almost half full perspective...
I came from a 530d auto to a 520d ED manual. I do mainly motorways and A roads, not much city driving. 20k+ miles a year for which I pay. I drove a 520d auto before opting for the manual. Why? Psychologically at least, a small engine in a big car felt faster to me with the manual box than the auto. The manual strikes me as a good one, clutch is easy and the pedals are not as offset as the A6 - the car even raises the revs as you raise the clutch, so in heavy traffic you don't need to use your right foot. The start-stop also functions as an anti-stall feature, should you bring the clutch up too quickly.
My only gripe with the manual - and this is a feature of the now obsolete ED version - is the 10% higher final drive which makes it gutless in 6th on the motorway at legal speeds. 2nd can also be a bit tall for mini roundabouts.
The bigger gripe is the 2.0 engine itself. Enough grunt 90% of the time but it's a rough old thing, especially when cold (and when you've been used to a 6). Averaging 50mpg over the last year or so has proven beneficial on the wallet though.
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      04-05-2014, 11:12 AM   #13
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Lots of glass half empty comments here. Here's a glass almost half full perspective...
I came from a 530d auto to a 520d ED manual. I do mainly motorways and A roads, not much city driving. 20k+ miles a year for which I pay. I drove a 520d auto before opting for the manual. Why? Psychologically at least, a small engine in a big car felt faster to me with the manual box than the auto. The manual strikes me as a good one, clutch is easy and the pedals are not as offset as the A6 - the car even raises the revs as you raise the clutch, so in heavy traffic you don't need to use your right foot. The start-stop also functions as an anti-stall feature, should you bring the clutch up too quickly.
My only gripe with the manual - and this is a feature of the now obsolete ED version - is the 10% higher final drive which makes it gutless in 6th on the motorway at legal speeds. 2nd can also be a bit tall for mini roundabouts.
The bigger gripe is the 2.0 engine itself. Enough grunt 90% of the time but it's a rough old thing, especially when cold (and when you've been used to a 6). Averaging 50mpg over the last year or so has proven beneficial on the wallet though.
Thanks for that

We have been out looking at cars today.

We did look at the Prius and the CT200 and whilst the CT200 has a really nice cabin, it felt claustrophobic and cramped. As you say the reviews are not good and it is a slow old thing (0 to 60 comes in just short of 13 seconds reving hard all the way with it's CVT gearbox). The Prius on the other hand is roomy and has lots of toys but has looks that only a mother could love and the vast expanses of hard smooth plastic inside have me thinking this will creak and groan with every pothole. And to end it all, even though it was a top of the range model, because it would be specified with the solar roof, it comes with plastic hub caps!

It may be cheap but whilst I still enjoy driving I can't bring myself to say yes to a Prius.

We also looked at the A3 S Line 2.0TDi sportback. Again it's on the list

Brilliant car. Much more space that we expected for back seat passengers. Even I fitted with room to spare in the back. The boot was a good size and it has a good level of standard trim. The cabin again was a really nce place to be and to a point, it did feel like I was sitting in a baby version of mine. I suppose to a point I was.

But we would never fit the 3 of us plus 2 weeks of luggage into the back of it come July when we drive into Europe.

Then we came to BMW. Options were:

118D M Sport
X1 18D SE
318D SE Touring
520D SE Saloon

The 118D was discounted on size alone. The X1 was discounted because the emissions make it more expensive than the 318D or the 520D in company car tax

The 318 Touring was good. Remember I had an E91 335D for a long time and loved that car so it felt familiar and had plenty of room with a good level of standard spec.

The 520D felt very much like my A7. Roomy, comfortable, secure. Even in SE spec, it has most things as standard from leather through to Xenons. Nav and bluetooth. Sure it's not as practical as the 318 Touring but it's close. The boot in the 520 saloon is bigger than the boot (with the seats up) in the 318 touring.

So it's looking like a 520D SE is where I am heading. Probably in Space Grey (at least I get to choose the colour).

Sure it's a manual and it isn't an A7 with 6 cylinders and Quattro but it's the smallest step down and lets put this into perspective. There are a lot of people out there who would kill to have any of these cars on their drive. This really is a 1st world problem we are discussing here.

So expect to see me back here in a few weeks with loads of questions. The first one being:

What is the standard stereo like and can the speakers be upgraded with a simple swap out easily because one thing I will miss from my A7 is the Bose sound system

Thanks
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      04-05-2014, 01:34 PM   #14
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....The boot in the 520 saloon is bigger than the boot (with the seats up) in the 318 touring....
FYI just to let you know before you order, folding seats are an option on the standard F10. (I know!!!)

Having said that out of the options you had, I think the 5 series is the best bet by far!
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      04-05-2014, 01:40 PM   #15
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FYI just to let you know before you order, folding seats are an option on the standard F10. (I know!!!)
There are lots of options on a 5 unfortunately I am not able to select any of them
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      04-06-2014, 02:09 AM   #16
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i would say that the 3 touring will be more practical….circa 500l of boot space below the chair line, but you can load it up above it unlike a saloon, plus split fold seats are standard which in your case you cannot have if you cannot tick any options on the 5. Standard equipment on the 3 is poor compared to 5……no xenons or navigation plus leather is not standard on all models.

don't rule out a roof box on long journeys….we drove to italy with one and couldn't have done without it…what with all the baby gear we had to take and i have a F31
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      04-06-2014, 04:04 AM   #17
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don't rule out a roof box on long journeys….we drove to italy with one and couldn't have done without it…what with all the baby gear we had to take and i have a F31
That's what the salesman pointed out. Even though I made it very clear upon entering the showroom that he would not be getting a sale out of me because it would be a company car. he was still happy to spend some time with me going through the different cars. Good man!

You are right about the trim levels between the 3 and the 5. There is a noticeable difference we (like yesterday) you step out of one and straight into another.

But yes, a roof box is an option but when I think back to my E91 when we did load it for holidays etc, I always made sure I was still able to pull the cover over the load area so everything was out of sight when we parked up en route. The only time we loaded higher was at Calais on the way home when we chucked in a few cases of wine. I could still pop them on the back seat

As for dropping the back seats down. That tends to be when we go to Ikea and these days, even those guys can deliver

So our thinking right now is the 5 as the company car and then when my wifes Fiat 500 is ready for change, we look at either a 1 series or an A3 or even an X3. Doing that, we would still be 350 per month better off (not with the X3 though)
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      04-15-2014, 04:31 AM   #18
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A manual 520D is not a bad choice at all. It is a great box and as someone else pointed out it makes the car feel like it has more power.
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      04-15-2014, 01:46 PM   #19
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A manual 520D is not a bad choice at all. It is a great box and as someone else pointed out it makes the car feel like it has more power.
I'm hoping so because BMW Corporate have called me today to tell me to expect delivery mid June.
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      04-15-2014, 02:19 PM   #20
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That's what the salesman pointed out. Even though I made it very clear upon entering the showroom that he would not be getting a sale out of me because it would be a company car. he was still happy to spend some time with me going through the different cars. Good man!

You are right about the trim levels between the 3 and the 5. There is a noticeable difference we (like yesterday) you step out of one and straight into another.

But yes, a roof box is an option but when I think back to my E91 when we did load it for holidays etc, I always made sure I was still able to pull the cover over the load area so everything was out of sight when we parked up en route. The only time we loaded higher was at Calais on the way home when we chucked in a few cases of wine. I could still pop them on the back seat

As for dropping the back seats down. That tends to be when we go to Ikea and these days, even those guys can deliver

So our thinking right now is the 5 as the company car and then when my wifes Fiat 500 is ready for change, we look at either a 1 series or an A3 or even an X3. Doing that, we would still be 350 per month better off (not with the X3 though)
Roof box is a 10 minute fit on an F10 saloon too, just saying. Yes a little more faff than the touring but very easy.
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